Tenders and corruption in post-apartheid South Africa : rethinking African ethics as a panacea for corruption.
Zondi, Samson Nelson Thembinkosi.
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The African National Congress inherited a country with high levels of unemployment, deepening poverty and inequalities. These socio-economic challenges were the result of the previous apartheid regime‟s reliance on racism to conduct its affairs such as the distribution of basic services and socio-economic wealth of the country. As such, the African National Congress (ANC) came up with different policies and programmes aimed at significantly transforming these skewed and racialised socio-economic conditions. Socio-economic empowerment was identified as one of the key programmes to be championed by the new democratic government led by the ANC. To this end, tenders or public procurement formed a vital element of the economic strategies that were put in place as a means of empowering black entrepreneurs with a view that they will in turn empower others through the means of „trickledown‟ economics. Tender guidelines were designed to advance this programme in a transparent, fair and cost-effective way. Contrary to this noble idea, the practice of tenders has become synonymous with acts of bribery and financial kickbacks which are serious forms of corruption. In this regard, the electronic and print media report daily about government officials, public servants, politicians and business people who have found a way of manipulating tender rules and other economic empowerment policies to enrich themselves at the expense of the people of South Africa. This study focuses on tenders and corruption in the post-apartheid era. It reviews key programmes such as the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), Batho Pele, Masakhane, Affirmative Action (AA) and Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). The study claims that while these programmes were important, the lack of moral or ethical leadership at all levels of society ate into the moral fibre upon which these programmes were based. On the basis of the evidence presented, this study concluded that the ANC-led government was correct in using public procurement as one of its methods to address the legacy of Apartheid. However, the research study also confirmed that corruption is essentially a moral or ethical problem and as such there should be an ethical solution to it. While there are many ethical perspectives, this study found that African ethics in general and Ubuntu in particular is the most relevant type of ethic that could be used as a panacea to corruption.
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